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Genetically Engineered Corn in South Africa: Implications for Food Security in the Region

This article summarises the findings of a study undertaken by US-based academics at the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture and the State University of New Jersey.  The authors analysed data on the impact of the adoption of genetically modified Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) maize on corn production in seven southern African countries:  Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  The report discusses the importance of corn in southern African farming and diets and describes the process of adoption of Bt corn, which was slow at first.

The study found that both large and small-scale farmers who planted Bt cotton benefited in terms of increased yields and reduced pesticide applications, although it was impossible to quantify the latter advantage in relation to smallholders.  Small farmers said that they liked the quality of the Bt corn varieties.

The report goes on to estimate the potential impact of improved corn yield on food security in the region.  The authors conclude by discussing possible measures that might encourage small farmers to adopt the new varieties.

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